Dowagiac student arraigned, bond set at $100KPublished 5:51pm Thursday, September 20, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — A 17-year-old Dowagiac Union High School junior is facing five felony and three misdemeanors counts after police found guns, ammunition and a knife in his vehicle on school property Wednesday.
Phillip James Edward Kocsis was arraigned Thursday in Cass County District Court on the eight charges, including carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, which carries a five-year prison sentence.
Judge Stacey Rentfrow set bail for Kocsis at $100,000 at the request of Prosecutor Victor Fitz, who told the court Kocsis had brought at least two firearms to school on multiple occasions — not just the day he was caught.
“In this day and age anyone bringing weapons to school … it is an extremely dangerous situation as we know from terrible tragedies that have occurred throughout this country,” Fitz said.
According to Dowagiac Police Chief Tom Atkinson, Ryan Murray, school resource officer, received a tip around 9 a.m. Wednesday. Murray was attending a training session out of town at the time he received the tip. He then contacted Dowagiac police.
Officers responded with assistance from the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team, which is made up of Dowagiac and Cass County officers, and made contact with Kocsis. Atkinson estimates it took less than 45 minutes after receiving the tip to contact the student and secure the weapons. An M1 carbine, 12-gauge shotgun, Ka-Bar knife and ammunition were found in Kocsis’ vehicle Wednesday, Fitz said.
Many parents questioned why the school did not notify them of the incident Wednesday, to which Atkinson said it was his understanding that Supt. Mark Daniel sent letters home.
“I have not seen one and it is my understanding that he had (sent letters to parents),” Atkinson said. “We work directly with the administration.”
In the courtroom, Fitz described a situation Tuesday in the parking lot where Kocsis threatened to shoot anyone that touched him or his truck after a classmate told Kocsis he needed to get a parking pass for his vehicle.
“Not only did he say these words, your honor,” Fitz said, “he said them in a heated fashion.”
Kocsis then began moving to the vehicle in “an angry state,” prompting a classmate to stop him from getting to the vehicle, Fitz told the court.
Fitz said classmates described Kocsis as having “mood swings” and a “very short fuse” in the past several days. Fitz also said Kocsis disregarded a direct order from his father not to bring guns to school in his vehicle in the days leading up to the incident.
The court also heard Kocsis checked out a book called “Blank Confession” from the school library within the past two weeks. The book, Fitz said, was about a student that shot other people after being bullied.
“In light of the other circumstances, it creates great concern,” Fitz said.
Vicky Kocsis, the defendant’s mother, declined to answer questions but did say, “It’s not true.”
DUHS administrators answered calls Thursday stating that any inquiries about the situation are to be directed to Daniel. Phone calls to Daniel’s office were not immediately returned.
Kocsis turned 17 on Sept. 18, one day before he was arrested on the charges. His next court appearances have been scheduled for Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.
Kocsis is charged with three felony counts of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, two felony firearm counts and three misdemeanor counts of possessing a weapon in a weapon-free school zone.